We have selected properties for family vacations based their exceptional facilities, like on-site water parks, as well as their comfy lodgings and variety of programs: some for the whole family and others just for little ones and teens (supervised, of course) so moms and dads can enjoy much-deserved alone time.
There’s nothing wrong with scheduling daily life around your kids’ soccer games and piano recitals, but when it comes time to take a vacation, we believe in the fair distribution of playtime. This list of best spots for family vacations across the USA focuses on locations with dedicated children’s activities, but, also include as activities such as golf, spa treatments, fine dining, and more for parents.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
This laid-back destination enjoys a terrific location between Miami and Orlando. Four dedicated kids clubs are divided by age, and unique activities range from flying trapeze lessons to circus school. Also included in the rates are tennis, golf and beach volleyball academies, sailing lessons, a water park and a wide variety of dining options. Soleil serves gourmet fare overlooking the St. Lucie River, while The Marketplace offers a Baby Corner so parents can easily prepare meals for their infants. Indulgences such as an adults-only pool and Club Med Spa by L’Occitane offer a welcome break from the nonstop family fun.
Earthshine Discovery Center
The all-inclusive Earthshine Discovery Center delivers an eclectic range of experiences. On Pioneer Mornings, you can apprentice in a blacksmith shop, spin wool and make hand-dipped candles, while on Cherokee Mornings, you can discover the traditional ways of the Native American tribe with activities that include clay bead-making and grinding corn. Because the resort believes that family vacations are about quality time together, you will find activities suitable for a wide range of ages — rock wall climbing, zip-line courses and barnyard hikes are just a few of the bonding experiences on offer. Rates include activities, hearty home-cooked meals (BYOB) and accommodations. Storybook-worthy rooms are housed in the hand-built cedar lodge, and the Sunrise Cottage offers a selection of larger family suites.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
Kids’ clubs are an art form at luxury resorts in Hawaii, but the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort offers more than just a notable selection of youth-oriented activities. Its unique attractions range from Atlantis submarine tours to starlight luaus complete with hula lessons. This 22-acre beachfront “village” boasts a 10,000-square-foot Super Pool, the multi-level Paradise Pool, the longest water slide in Waikiki, 20 dining options, a lavish Mandara Spa and Camp Penguin, featuring a different program each day. Children can experience activities such as Hawaiian Ocean Explorer with a trip to the Waikiki Aquarium, Waikiki Aloha with volcano-making on the beach and Treasures of Hawaii, which introduce youngsters to petroglyphs, feather capes and the State Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
The Hotel Hershey
When it comes to product placement, it doesn’t get more scrumptious than this. Willy Wonka, eat your heart out. Just one aspect of the local Hershey experience, The Hotel Hershey pairs adult pastimes such as golf and (chocolate themed) spa treatments with the Cocoa Clubhouse kids club, a daily supervised program (for a fee) for ages 5 and up, featuring tennis, basketball, swimming, arts and crafts, ice cream making and free kids’ check-in with Hershey candy characters. Nearby Hershey Park boasts 13 different roller coasters. And the hands-on, interactive Hershey’s Chocolate World will tempt sweet tooths of all ages with an inside look at chocolate making: participate in a 4D chocolate mystery, create your own candy bar (including packaging) and save your appetite for a chocolate tasting adventure.
The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island
A barrier island off the coast of Georgia, Little St. Simons invites families to discover the rhythms of nature. Winter brings Cedar Waxwings feeding on holly berries, fawns begin to appear in May and summer features alligator sightings — they are particularly active in the ponds in June. Privately owned for more than a century, this magical sanctuary is home to maritime forests, marshlands and seven miles of beaches, giving parents the opportunity to immerse their children in the beauty of nature. Rates include accommodation, meals and naturalist-led activities such as canoeing, kayaking and bicycling. For family reunions, the entire island can be rented.Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Popular as a weekend spa and golf escape for Angelenos, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa offers an ideal retreat for your family vacations. Dating back to the 1920s, this sumptuous property features activities for all generations. Camp Oak (ages 4 to 12) offers dive-in movies at the pool and themed programs ranging from Undersea Adventures to Dino Day to Super Safari. Teens also enjoy age-appropriate activities such as rock climbing, geocaching, surfing, golf clinics and special spa treatments. Accommodations are residential in style, with comfy, contemporary décor, and dining celebrates fresh California produce. In short, this is the place to go when you want to combine luxury with an enriching experience for all ages.
Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa
There is no question about the main attraction at this 300-room resort. The property features four golf courses designed by Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw. It is also home to the Barton Creek Golf Academy, which includes a full golf school, short-course academy and private lessons. The signature Fazio Foothills Golf Course is known for its cliff-lined fairways, waterfalls and caves, and the three other courses also take advantage of the intriguing natural setting, where white-tail deer can be found sharing the fairways.
As for pursuits that don’t involve a tee time, local influences loom large, from regional cuisine with a gourmet touch to spa treatments such as the Hill Country Lavender Essence or the Mexican Chocolate Cayenne Scrub. Cuisine and cocktails are notable, with five unique venues ranging from the 8212 Wine Bar & Grill serving seasonal cuisine to the Hill Country Dining Room, a fine dining destination unto itself. Guest rooms and suites are done in a traditional style that suits the surroundings. Conferences and events can be accommodated in 43,000 square feet of meeting space.
With its own 40,000-square-foot indoor water park, this wilderness resort has “family vacation” written all over it. Along with water slides and a wave pool that can be enjoyed year-round, the 25-acre property features a range of kid-friendly activities, from bonfires and family story time to movie nights and Xbox tournaments. A variety of accommodations are available: standard hotel guest rooms, two-bedroom townhouses with full kitchens and four-bedroom homes for groups of up to ten (perfect for family reunions). Hiking, whitewater rafting and horseback riding are just a few of the outdoor attractions.
While hotels like Circus Circus or Excalibur may seem the obvious choices for family vacations in Las Vegas, we like to think outside the box … and off the Strip. Just 20 minutes from the action, this resort is also only ten minutes from high desert adventures in Red Rock Canyon — mountain biking, horseback riding, river rafting, hot springs and Native American petroglyphs are just a few of the local draws. As for the resort itself, it has all the usual attractions (a casino with poolside gaming, a 25,000-square-foot spa, fine dining) and then some. Both parents and kids enjoy the three-acre “backyard” pool area, IMAX movie theater and bowling center. When mom and dad want to take in a lounge act or hit the tables, the Kids Quest indoor playground offers supervised games, crafts, a science lab, a climbing maze and themed activities.
The rustic but upscale Vista Verde ranch is surrounded by 500 spectacular acres of forest, meadow and pastureland. It’s popular with families and is often rented out for weddings and business retreats. Accommodations include deluxe lodge rooms and charming log cabins with wood-burning stoves and private hot tubs. All maintain a designer Western spirit, furnished with original art, antiques and handmade furniture.
In the summer, horseback riding is the main attraction, and there are special equestrian and nature-related programs for your family vacations. This season also offers fly-fishing, hiking, rafting and kayaking, and to cool down, guests head to the Fountain Deck for ice cream and the refreshing spray of spouting water jets. Winter activities include dog sledding, snow shoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Year-round, special photography and culinary programs are offered. Along with activities, all-inclusive rates encompass healthy, hearty ranch fare with wine and beer, as well as take-on-the-trail snacks.
Woodloch Pines Resort
Plan your family vacations at the all-inclusive, all-season Woodloch Pines Resort, every age will feel at home. Family-owned and operated since 1958, the resort allows parents to customize every aspect of their stay, including meal plans and accommodation types. It’s easy to take advantage of the great outdoors with the help of naturalists who lead classes and nature walks. Fun for everyone includes a rock climbing wall, bumper cars, Broadway-style performances, snowshoeing, ice skating, edible plant walks and reality TV-inspired activities like the popular Bakery Wars.